Mobile Tours - Sunday, September 19

10:30-4:30 | Stopping by the Woods on a Sunny Sunday (.3 CEU)

This session will be a daylong onsite workshop that will tell the story of how a forgotten trail project was transformed into a flourishing community project during a pandemic. Trails that travel through woods are more popular than ever because they enable trail users to practice social distancing and enjoy the natural environment.

The day will begin with a visit to the East Branch Trail at the Sportsman Trail Bridge where attendees will hear a short history of the East Branch trail and successes in leveraging funds for the bridge project.  Lunch will be enjoyed at beautiful Hasbrouck Park in Hydetown, where participants will hear from Representatives from Rails-to-Trails Conservancy as well as representatives from other funding partners.  After lunch, we will enjoy a short walk and talk from Mystic Park Road to Rosenburg Road where views will include a Great Blue Heron rookery, marshes, and numerous beaver dams and ponds, while also passing by numerous Rails-to-Trails volunteer improvement projects.

The focus of this tour will be to show how a dormant trail project was able to become an active vibrant project by enticing locals to stop by woods on a Sunday Afternoon.

Lead Speaker

Ron Steffey, Trail Consultant | Steffey Trail Connections
Ron Steffey has been producing trail connections for decades. Steffey Trail Connections is a trail consulting business where Ron assists others to plan, construct, and maintain sustainable trails. He has managed trail projects that have included the purchasing and railbanking of railroad corridors, transforming over 70 miles of rails into trails and renovating century old tunnels. Most of these projects have involved volunteers that have dramatically reduced the cost of both construction and maintenance. Ron’s strong advocacy for trails continues to connect people to the natural Pennsylvania environment.

10:30-4:30 | Celebrating 100 Years of Presque Isle (.3 CEU)

Come explore Presque Isle State Park, a 3,200-acre sandy peninsula that arches into beautiful Lake Erie. As Pennsylvania’s only “seashore,” Presque Isle offers visitors a scenic coastline and a variety of recreational activities. Participants in this mobile seminar will enjoy a combination of guided activities led by state parks staff which will showcase the beauty and history of the park, and time to explore on-your-own.

The neck of the peninsula is attached to the mainland four miles west of downtown Erie. The park created Presque Isle Bay, a wide and deep harbor for the city of Erie. The bay attracts many pleasure boats and worldwide freighters – making Erie an important Great Lakes shipping port. A National Natural Landmark, Presque Isle is a favorite spot for migrating birds. Because of the many unique habitats, Presque Isle contains a greater number of the state’s endangered, threatened, and rare species than any other area of comparable size in Pennsylvania.

This visit will begin with an interpretive park tour as we travel on the bus to the pontoon boat station.  Once at the pontoon boat station, participants will board one of two pontoon boats for a tour of the lagoons where they will learn about resource management. Lunch will be at the Rotary Pavilion and will offer some time for self-exploration of the area and networking.  After lunch, the tour will continue with a visit to the Tom Ridge Environmental Center to tour exhibits and have a personal tour of the 100 Years of Presque Isle exhibit.

Whether this is your first visit or one of many, you’ll be able to enjoy the sandy beaches, take advantage of the ecological diversity, or learn about the historical significance of the peninsula. There is truly something for everyone at Presque Isle State Park!

Note: Participants in this tour will need to select the additional “Presque Isle Tour Equipment Fee” charge at registrations under ‘Meals and Add-ons’.  This fee covers participation in the pontoon boat tour.

Speakers:

Ray Bierbower, Environmental Education Specialist | PA DCNR, Presque Isle and Erie Bluffs State Park, Tom Ridge Environmental Center

Ray has worked as an environmental education specialist at Presque Isle State Park since 2008.  He graduated from Penn State University with a  degree in biology in 2005.  While in school, he interned at Presque Isle and knew he would like to return someday.  He began his career with Penn State Cooperative Extension as an educator before moving to Erie.  He enjoys spending time outdoors with wife Valerie and daughter Grace, and his hobbies include hunting, fishing, hiking, and raising tropical fish. 

Alyssa Zimmer, Environmental Interpretive Technician | PA DCNR, Presque Isle State Park

Brian Gula, Environmental Education Specialist | PA DCNR, Presque Isle State Park

 

12:30-4:00 | Asbury Woods: From Hives to Honey (.3 CEU)

Asbury Woods is an oasis of 211 acres of preserved property in the center of Millcreek Township. Encompassing old-growth forests, landscaped gardens, wetlands, boardwalks and trails, Asbury Woods mission is to inspire a greater connection to the natural world by protecting, managing, and interpreting their property; providing outdoor recreational opportunities; and offering environmental education experiences.

This mobile workshop will be a visit to their annual From Hive to Honey: The Honey Bee Story community event. Seasonal community festivals are a gateway for individuals of all ages into all that Asbury Woods has to offer. Often someone’s first experience with programming at Asbury Woods, the seasonal community festivals center on various nature-related themes. The Hive to Honey event features five stations showcasing the honey bee story and the vital role they play in agriculture, pollination, and the food chain.

The workshop will also include a tour of the Andrew J. Conner Nature Center at Asbury Woods and the property and trails adjacent to it for a glimpse into their outdoor recreation programs, current forest restoration projects and the ADA compliant wooden boardwalk that opened in December 2019.

Lead Speaker

Jennifer Farrar, Executive Director | Asbury Woods
Jennifer Farrar joined Asbury Woods as Executive Director in December 2017. She previously served as Director of Community Development for EmergyCare for 7 years overseeing the growth of their development, marketing and public relations programs. She was also responsible for the education department. She has been engaged in philanthropic work for more than 20 years. She has been a member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals since 2003, holding a variety of chapter positions including treasurer and president. Jennifer is a 1998 graduate of Penn State Erie, The Behrend College, with a B.A. in History. A lifelong outdoor enthusiasts, Jennifer is thrilled to blend her personal passions with her professional experience introducing people to nature, modeling conservation practices and providing education to thousands of school children each year. When not at Asbury Woods, Jennifer can be found hiking, kayaking, cycling and sailing with her teenage sons.

12:30-4:00 | Wintergreen Gorge: A Sustainable Trail Project (.3 CEU)

Please note: Portions of this tour may include rough and uneven terrain. Wintergreen Gorge, a 3,980-feet long, 250-feet deep natural wonder in Harborcreek Township, was carved from shale and sandstone by Fourmile Creek during the end of the Ice Age more than 11,000 years ago. Characteristics include very steep and highly erodible slopes, pockets of wetlands along the bottom of the Gorge, and is home to unique and threatened plant communities. Most of the Gorge is on property owned by Penn State University that is open to the public and contains many miles of existing user-created trails developed by visitors as well as the main shared use path. The existing shared use path and desire line trails do not consider environmental issues or sustainable trail practices. In addition, existing parking backed out onto a dangerous section of Cooper Road.

Pashek + MTR developed a Trail Sustainability Master Plan for Wintergreen Gorge in 2014 and then completed the construction documents for Phase 1. This session will provide an overview of the trail project, from planning and development, to construction.

Lead Speakers

Sara Thompson, Principal | Pashek + MTR
Sara is a Registered Landscape Architect, SITES Accredited Professional, and Principal at Pashek+MTR, a community planning and design firm located in Pittsburgh. Her seventeen years of practice has focused on park and recreation planning and design and sustainable site design. She develops creative solutions that respond to the historical, cultural, and environmental context of each community or site while incorporating sound planning and design principles and sustainable site solutions. Her work has won several state and national awards and she has lectured at state and local conferences on park design and green stormwater management.

Dr. Sam Mason, Sustainability Coordinator | Penn State Behrend
Dr. Sherri A. Mason (aka “Sam”) earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Texas at Austin. She completed her doctorate in Chemistry at the University of Montana as a NASA Earth System Science scholar. Her research group is among the first to study the prevalence and impact of plastic pollution within freshwater ecosystems. While she continues her research endeavors, she has also recently moved into a new role as Sustainability Coordinator at Penn State Erie, The Behrend College.

Trip Leader

Ashley Lawson, Public Policy Advocate | Blue Zones Project, Corry
Immediately prior to joining the Blue Zones Project, Ashley was the Honors Program Coordinator at Gannon University where she received her Master of Public Administration degree. Ashley is committed to her community and believes everyone can and should do something to make a difference in their town. She sits on the board of the Erie Metropolitan Transit Authority and the board of trustees for the Jefferson Educational Society where she is also President of their Civic Leadership Academy Alumni Network. In 2019 Ashley was named one of Erie Reader’s “40 Under 40” for her continued commitment to the region. Her passion for public policy stems from a hope that everyone can love their community as much as she does. Focusing on the Blue Zones Project work in the Built Environment, Food Policy, and Tobacco Policy she aims to make Corry a happy, healthy, and attractive community for its residents and visitors.

Monday, September 20

11:00-Noon | Trail Etiquette: It's Really About Trail Safety (.1 CEU)

All trails struggle with issues related to trail etiquette, and this is probably the biggest user complaint for most trails.  The problem is not just that there are some users who don’t adhere to the rules, but a perception of many users that they are much more compliant that everyone else.  This panel of trail administrators will discuss the range of issues – ranging from risky behaviors to hypersensitive users – and potential solutions like various approaches to signage and user awareness. There is no single solution to the problem, but a constant effort to maintain awareness.

Presenters

Deb Thompson, President | Montour Trail Council
Ms. Thompson has been a long-time volunteer for the Montour Trail Council, and has retired after a career in environmental consulting. She is now President of the MTC, and only one of a large team of very dedicated volunteers.

Doug Riegner, Director of Community Relations | Great Allegheny Passage
Doug Riegner is the Director of Community Relations for the Great Allegheny Passage Conservancy. Their mission is to strengthen and support allied trail partners to ensure a high-quality experience for all who enjoy the Great Allegheny Passage. Doug’s work includes publishing TrailGuide, the authorized visitor’s guide of both the “150-mile GAP trail and C&O Canal Towpath. Throughout the year he develops relationships with people on the towpath and trails, local communities’ towns, tour groups, event organizers. He aims to constantly establish and grow connections between people – trails – businesses as well as regional and state level visitor bureaus. Doug is responsible for Great Allegheny Passage Social Media accounts where GAP Conservancy engages 40,000 followers surpassing 150,000+ impressions monthly in Facebook and Instagram. Over the past six years Doug served as ambassador and location manager for three national film projects along the GAP trail; Enterprise-Rent-A-Car commercial, REI Trailheads YouTube series, and WQED “The Great Ride” documentary. Doug loves tacos, road cycling and mountain biking, photography, and skiing.

Chris Ziegler, Executive Director | Armstrong Trails
Chris is the Executive Director of Armstrong Trails and Armstrong Conservancy, Inc. Armstrong Trails owns the 36-mile rail trail in Armstrong and Clarion Counties, and the conservancy owns approximately 500 acres of preserved property in Armstrong and Clarion Counties. She is also a board member of the Erie to Pittsburgh Trail Alliance, and Volunteer President of the Butler Freeport Community Trail for 18 years. Butler Freeport Community Trail is a 21-mile rail trail in Butler and Armstrong Counties. In her spare time, Chris likes to build trails and ride bikes with her grandkids.

Kelsey Ripper, Executive Director | Friends of the Riverfront
After growing up riding her bike on the trails and rowing the rivers of Pittsburgh, Kelsey lived and worked in New York City as a nonprofit manager and then as a nonprofit and economic development attorney. Her first introduction to Friends of the Riverfront was as a board member and volunteer. Before joining Friends as Executive Director, Kelsey was the Director of the Microenterprise Project at Volunteers of Legal Service (VOLS), an economic development program that provides free legal assistance to under-resourced small businesses and nonprofit organizations. Prior to working at VOLS, Kelsey was an Equal Justice Works Fellow at Lawyers Alliance for New York where she designed and implemented a program to provide legal services to nonprofit clients addressing food security. Kelsey has a J.D. from Fordham Law School and a B.A. in Environmental Studies and American Studies from Fordham University. She continues to hike, bike, and row along Pittsburgh’s rivers.

11:00-Noon | Interscholastic Cycling League: Mountain Biking as a Path to Stewardship Engagement (.1 CEU)

The PA Interscholastic Cycling League is putting kids and families on mountain bikes in a way never before seen in Pennsylvania. The league’s goal of integrating stewardship addresses youth development, but shows a path to stewardship engagement unlike anything seen before in PA as well. League founders do not see a separation between stewardship and riding, but rather that both are part of the mountain bike experience and want to share this vision with land managers and trail professionals. The League also recognizes that Pennsylvania is severely lacking in “gateway trail” experiences that provide easy, fun, and safe introductions to mountain biking, and that constituents demand for those experiences will only grow while a demand for additional trails and enhancements grows too. The League’s commitment to stewardship is a reflection of this understanding as well. This session will help parks and rec professionals and land managers better understand the PICL model and the opportunities that working with PICL present for their organization.

Speaker:

Mike Kuhn, Executive Director | PA Interscholastic Cycling League

Mike is the founder and executive director of the PA Interscholastic Cycling League (PICL, yes, “pickle”). From PICL inception and through its first three seasons, Mike has led the call for integral stewardship and advocacy programming for the league. Mike’s leadership on this front not only resulted in PICL’s focus, but is leading the National Interscholastic Cycling Association’s push to integrate stewardship in all 25 leagues across the USA. Early returns from PICL stewardship programming, the Teen Trail Corps, are astounding for such a young organization — the league participants

11:00-Noon | The Art of Leveraging/Rural Development Hub (.1 CEU)

Everyone wants a local trail, but trails are not a commodity that you can buy on Amazon and have it delivered to the local corridor. Our local trails are “Made in America” by Americans and support the American economy. Trail projects start with someone developing a dream and conveying the dream to others. This session will show techniques and examples that transformed trail dreams into reality by leveraging what organizations and communities had into what they needed. This session will also describe the obstacles and hardships that needed to be conquered to obtain the dream. Current real-life projects in Northwestern Pennsylvania will be illustrated and used to stimulate conversations and audience participation.

Speakers:

Ron Steffey, Trail Consultant | Steffey Trail Connections

Ron Steffey has been producing trail connections for decades. Steffey Trail Connections is a trail consulting business where Ron assists others to plan, construct, and maintain sustainable trails. He has managed trail projects that have included the purchasing and railbanking of railroad corridors, transforming over 70 miles of rails into trails and renovating century old tunnels. Most of these projects have involved volunteers that have dramatically reduced the cost of both construction and maintenance. Ron’s strong advocacy for trails continues to connect people to the natural Pennsylvania environment.

Kim Harris, Project Manager | Oil Region Alliance of Business, Industry and Tourism

Kim Hawkes, Volunteer | Impact Corry

Kim is a volunteer with Impact Corry, and an improve our link green spaces champion, and also a board member with Impact Corry and the Corry Community Foundation.  As principal of Hawkes Enterprises, LLC, Kimp provides consulting services specializing in operation excellence, process improvement, project management and more.

11:00-Noon | Panel: Water Brings Life to Communities

Hear how people re-engage with the waterways that helped shape their communities and are now helping to restore the life of the water. Panelists include our keynote Fred Tutman and Amy Camp of Cycle Forward as well as others.

Panelists

Fred Tutman | Patuxent Riverkeeper
Fred was born and raised along the Patuxent River as were seven generations of his ancestors before him. As the Patuxent Riverkeeper, an organization he founded in 2004, Fred is a grassroots community advocate for clean water in Maryland’s longest and deepest intrastate waterway. He is among the longest serving Waterkeepers in the Chesapeake region and the only African American Waterkeeper in the nation. He lives on an active farm located near the Patuxent that has been his family’s ancestral home for nearly a century. Prior to founding Patuxent Riverkeeper in 2004, Fred operated a business that provided professional media and mass communication services internationally, including a long stint working with and advising traditional healers in West Africa and coverage of the Falkands conflict in Argentina on assignment by the BBC. Fred also worked as a volunteer activist on the Patuxent for over 20 years until the momentum of the volunteer environmental work overcame his media career and the challenge of Riverkeeping beckoned. Fred is a recipient of numerous awards and recognitions for his work on behalf of environmental causes and issues in Maryland. He also serves on a variety of Boards, Task Forces and Commissions related to the work of protecting the Patuxent and the natural environment. Among them, Fred serves on the Board of the Environmental Integrity Project, as a Governor appointed Commissioner on the State’s Patuxent River Commission and on the Board of Waterkeeper Alliance, the international group that licenses Waterkeepers. After a late life sojourn into law school, Fred is now an adjunct instructor at historic St. Mary’s College of Maryland, where he teaches an upper-level course in Environmental Law and Policy. He is an avid kayaker, backpacker, and adventurer. In his spare time, he does trail maintenance on the Appalachian Trail, explores the Patuxent River by kayak, blacksmiths, writes and works on his farm.

Amy Camp, Owner | Cycle Forward
Amy Camp founded Cycle Forward in 2013 with the plan to help communities better connect to and benefit from their trails. She is a trails and tourism consultant, a placemaker, and a certified coach. She helped to launch the nationally recognized Trail Town Program® in 2007. She has since offered her consulting services along trails of all types throughout the U.S. and Canada. Amy’s book, ‘Deciding on Trails: 7 Practices of Healthy Trail Towns’, was published in December 2020. Amy serves on the Board of the Continental Divide Trail Coalition and was on the Board of American Trails from 2012-17. She is an Associate Certified Coach through the International Coach Federation and firmly believes that her coaching certification makes her a better consultant. Amy lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where she first grew to love communities and began her work to help improve them.

11:00-Noon | Active Erie Transportation Plan (.1 CEU)

Erie County and the City of Erie partnered on the development of the City’s first ever active transportation plan, aimed at creating a better environment for people walking and bicycling in Erie. The City used field views and GIS analysis to map the presence of sidewalks on every block. To evaluate the environment for bicycling, the team developed a comprehensive Level of Traffic Stress (LTS) analysis for every street in the City taking into account the effect of street dimensions, speed, parking, and bicycle facilities. This is likely the first citywide application of the LTS approach in Pennsylvania, and it is designed to ensure that all future transportation projects in Erie are designed for people of all ages and abilities. Through a comprehensive public engagement program featuring conventional meetings, an online survey, site visits, a stakeholder committee, and a City-wide mobile workshop on bikes, Erie residents had the opportunity to learn about the project and provide meaningful input. The plan recommends an aspirational yet realistic network of primary bike routes throughout the City, a comprehensive sidewalk installation and repair program, integration of public art, and several policy and program improvements to set Erie up for long-term success.

Presenters

Kathy Wyrosdick, Director of Planning and Neighborhood Resources  |City of Erie
Katherine Wyrosdick is the Planning Director for the City of Erie. She received her Masters of Urban Planning from the University of Michigan and is a certified planner with the American Institute of Certified Planners. After graduating from U of M, she spent 13 years as a planning consultant for communities in southeast Michigan, Ohio and Mississippi focusing on downtown revitalization strategies and comprehensive planning. Kathy transitioned from the private sector to the public sector in 2009 as the Director of Planning for the City of Fairmont, WV. She then found her way to Erie County and in 2015 become The Planning Director for Erie County before being hired by Mayor Schember in 2018 as the City of Erie’ first planner. At her new role with the City, Ms. Wyrosdick has reorganized City processes to provide more efficiency in dealing with problem properties, created performance measures for the City’s goals to ensure that vital community indicators are achieved, created a city-wide Active Transportation Plan, and has launched a neighborhood strategic planning process that prioritizes neighborhood needs throughout the City. Kathy lives in Erie, PA and has 2 adult children.

LeAnn Parmenter, Traffic Engineer | City of Erie
LeAnn Parmenter is a registered professional engineer that has been working at the City of Erie as Traffic Engineer for 14 years. She received her Masters Degree in Transportation from the University of Maryland and Bachelors Degree in Civil Engineering from The Pennsylvania State University.  LeAnn spent 15 years working in Maryland as a project engineer in the Highway Design and Traffic Engineering divisions for Maryland State Highway Administration and Howard County Government.  In her current position she has had the pleasure of assisting on many planning projects such as Erie Refocused and the Active Erie Transportation Plan.

Emily Aloiz, Planning Program Administrator | Erie County Department of Planning and Community Development
Emily Aloiz is the transportation planning program administrator at the Erie County Department of Planning and Community Development as well as the Secretary of the Erie Metropolitan Planning Organization where she has worked for three years. A native of Erie County, she earned a Masters in Historic Preservation from the University of Pennsylvania before becoming working for the County.

Jeffrey Riegner Vice President | Whitman, Requardt & Associates, LLP
Jeff Riegner is a certified planner and registered professional engineer with 30 years of experience in developing transportation plans and designing facilities for all modes of transportation. His passion is transforming our communities by making smart transportation choices. Jeff is vice president of Whitman, Requardt & Associates, LLP. As WRA’s lead for Complete Streets and active transportation, Jeff serves as a steering committee member and workshop instructor for the National Complete Streets Coalition and is the past chair of the Institute of Transportation Engineers Pedestrian and Bicycle Council. He holds degrees from the University of Delaware and the University of California at Berkeley. Jeff led the consultant team in the development of the Active Erie Transportation Plan.

11:00-Noon | Trail Users of a Different Kind (.1 CEU)

The “What’s, Whys and Wherefores” of horses on the trail and how everyone can feel comfortable. We never know who we may meet on the trail. Equestrians share trails and portions of many other trails in Pennsylvania and the nation. Sustainability, layout and maintenance needs as well as the pluses and considerations of doing so will be discussed as part of this session.

Gwen Wills, Trail Stewardship Program Director | Pennsylvania Equine Council
Becoming concerned about the loss of access to public lands for equine use across the country in 2001, Gwen got involved with the Pennsylvania Equine Council (PEC), a grass roots volunteer organization that represents the equine owners in Pennsylvania. Gwen developed and conducts 3-Day and 1-Day Trail Stewardship Workshops to prepare volunteers interested in preserving shared-use non-motorized trails. The Workshops also train volunteers and agency personnel to work together in order to maintain sustainable trails and to possibly layout and construct reroutes or connectors, if needed, to bypass unsustainable portions of the trails. 2-Day Packing Clinics are also offered for a more “land friendly” approach for packing gravel, tools and materials for trail work. Other educational programs have also been produces from 1 hour to one day regarding “Leave no Trace/Ride Smart” to educate non-motorized trail users about appropriate behavior and shared use ethics while enjoying our outdoors.

Bud Wills, State Trail Chair | Pennsylvania Equine Council
Bud Wills, Pennsylvania Equine Council State Trail Chairman, and his wife Gwen have taken on the formidable task of educating Pennsylvania trail riders in the ways of good ecological citizenship. The Wills have traveled the country learning how other states have solved their trail access and sustainability problems.

1:00-1:45 | A Unique Approach to Recreation and Outfitting Along the Schuylkill River

The Schuylkill River Greenways National Heritage Area (SRG) has been delivering successful outdoor recreation and education programs on the Schuylkill River and the Schuylkill River Trail for decades. Paddling, hiking, biking and youth engagement programs have been some of the hallmarks in conveying the organization’s mission to residents, communities, and visitors. One of the main ingredients needed to make these programs and events happen is a viable local outfitter to partner with to support the recreational components.

While outdoor recreation has blossomed in the region over the last decade, the river and trail corridor has not seen recreation focused outfitters succeed at the same rate. Over the years, outfitters along the Schuylkill have experienced varying degrees of success in gaining a foothold and maintaining stability. Although outfitters have existed for decades on adjacent waterways like the Lehigh and Delaware, the Schuylkill has not been as fortunate.

In 2020, in the midst of the global COVID-19 pandemic, SRG’s most reliable recreational partner closed its doors. Left with very few options and in need of support for annual events and programs, the SRG embarked on a project to establish a new unique partnership that would not only support and benefit our programming, but also the broader community and region as well as other partners along the Schuylkill.

During this presentation participants will hear how SRG leveraged an existing partnership and used a little creativity to create a regional, multi-focused outfitter. This session will look at the formation of Take It Outdoors, LLC, a non profit outfitter and how the collaboration between the two organizations is expanding the SRG’s capacity for recreational programming and its reach to diverse populations and new constituents locally and beyond.

Presenters

Tim Fenchel, Deputy Director | Schuylkill River Greenways National Heritage Area
Tim has been with the Schuylkill River Greenways NHA since 2006 serving in several roles and functions over the years. He has over 20 years of experience working in the nonprofit sector and over the last fifteen years with SRG has managed multiple grant programs and dozens of local and regional projects. His passion is for the Schuylkill River Restoration Fund, a grant program that supports water quality projects throughout the watershed. He is also currently working on a project to develop a series of recreational hubs throughout river town communities along the Schuylkill which recently included the creation of a non-profit partner outfitter, Take It Outdoors. When not on the job Tim enjoys spending time with his family, fishing, traveling, hanging out by rivers and a good campfire.

Noah Phillips, Director | Take It Outdoors
Noah has over ten years of experience guiding biking and kayaking trips throughout Pennsylvania. He spent the summer of 2020 launching the livery and shuttle service for Take It Outdoors and creating many new and unique programs that saw hundreds of people recreating on the river and Trail. Noah holds a Masters’s degree in Non-Profit Management and is a Level 2 ACA kayak instructor. When not working on the river you’ll find him somewhere outdoors in Pennsylvania.

1:00-1:45 | PennDOT Connects: Moving Forward in Partnership

This session will provide information on the PennDOT Connects Process. Participants will learn how a partnership with PennDOT can be a positive experience for their communities;the importance of crafting and updating current plans such as bike/ped plans and comprehensive plans to gain support for the request; andfunding opportunities that can be combined into a project to achieve requests, such as sidewalk additions.

Speakers:

Lyndsie DeVito, District Planner, Sr. Civil Engineer | PennDOT District 1

Ms. DeVito serves as the District Planner for the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation in District 1. The service area includes Crawford, Erie, Forest, Venango, and Warren counties. Her effort is comprised of the administration of Multimodal, Bicycle & Pedestrian and District Connects efforts. In addition she acts as the primary liaison between the Department and its regional and county planning partners including assisting with coordination in all efforts to plan, program and deliver local transportation projects to construction.

Courtney Lyle, Planning and Programming Manager | PennDOT District 1

Courtney has been with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation since 2001. She worked in Indiana and Clarion counties prior to coming to District 1 in Oil City in 2013. Courtney is currently the Planning and Programming Manager, where she is responsible for highway and bridge project programming for six counties in the northwestern portion of Pennsylvania. One of her focuses is on developing innovative strategies to support their efforts to fund multimodal projects.  When Courtney is not working, she enjoys time with her family and friends, and traveling, especially to the beach.

Emily Aloiz, Planning Program Administrator | Erie County Department of Planning and Community Development

Emily Aloiz is the transportation planning program administrator at the Erie County Department of Planning and Community Development as well as the Secretary of the Erie Metropolitan Planning Organization where she has worked for three years.   A native of Erie County, she earned a Masters in Historic Preservation from the University of Pennsylvania before becoming working for the County.

Travis Siegel, Regional Planning Manager | Northwest Regional Planning Organization

Travis Siegel manages the Transportation Program at the Northwest PA Regional Planning Development Commission (Northwest Commission).  The Northwest Commission serves as the Rural Planning Organization (RPO) Planning Partner for PennDOT.  Siegel is tasked with transportation planning for the counties of Clarion, Crawford, Forest, Venango and Warren.  He has worked in the business and economic and community development field for over 14 years.  He has spent the last 4 years working solely in transportation. Siegel is a graduate of Clarion University and is a lifelong resident of the region.  He currently resides in Clarion, PA with his wife and three daughters.

Matt Stewart, Senior Transportation Planner| Shenango Valley Area Transportation Study Metropolitan Planning Organization

Matt Stewart is a Senior Transportation Planner at the Mercer County Regional Planning Commission (MCRPC) in Hermitage, PA. In this role, he oversees the day-to-day operations of the Shenango Valley Area Transportation Study Metropolitan Planning Organization (SVATS MPO), the organization responsible for the planning and programming of all federal transportation dollars across Mercer County. On a daily basis, he collaborates with a variety of transportation stakeholders, including various PennDOT staff members, elected officials, regional agencies, and the general public. Matt has been employed by the MCRPC since 2005, moving into the full-time transportation planning role in 2007. During this time, he has observed a significant cultural shift in the degree to which trails and other bicycle/pedestrian amenities are desired across the region, and has worked to make these non-automotive transportation modes an integral part of the transportation network. Matt is a graduate of Kent State University in Ohio, earning both his B.A. and M.A. in Geography with a focus on Urban Planning.

Brian Hare, Director | PennDOT Center for Program Development and Management

Brian is a 32-year employee of the PA Department of Transportation, and he is currently the Director of the Center for Program Development and Management. His responsibilities include oversight of the State Transportation Improvement Program, Twelve-Year Program, and Long Range Transportation Plan/Freight Plan development. Prior to working in the Program Center, Brian served various roles in Project Delivery at PennDOT, including serving in the Design Services Division Chief and Highway Quality Assurance Division Chief positions. He is a registered Professional Engineer in Pennsylvania.

1:00-1:45 | Trails and Trees: Tree Risk, Tree Preservation, and Plant Health Care in a Trail System

Trees are an asset to any trail system, helping to manage storm water, regulate temperature, prevent soil erosion, and act as wind breaks. Trees also contribute to an aesthetically pleasing hiking experience. Properly caring for and maintaining trees along a trail is an essential part of a comprehensive preventative maintenance program for any trail property. In this session, we’ll discuss the appropriate techniques for maintaining the health and safety of trees along a trail, how to spot and handle potential tree risks, and important steps you can take to preserve the trees in your trail system.

Presenter

Mark Spitulski, Owner | MKS Arborist Services
Mark Spitulski, former Director of Facilities and Grounds at Asbury Woods Nature Center and owner of MKS Arborist Services, earned a degree in Forestry from Paul Smith’s College, The College of the Adirondacks. Continuing his education, Mark earned the Certified Arborist credential from the International Society of Arboriculture in 2008 and established MKS Arborist Services later that year. In March 2020, Mark earned the ISA Tree Risk Assessment Qualification (TRAQ), a credential held by only a handful of tree professionals in his region. Mark has a passion for arboriculture science and was recently appointed to the City of Erie Urban Forest Committee.

1:00-1:45 | All Together Now: Introducing Pennsylvania’s Trail Management App

Building on the successes of GoToTrails and The Circuit Pipeline Tool over the last 8 years, Environmental Planning & Design (EPD) and the Pennsylvania Environmental Council (PEC) have developed a searchable state-wide Trail Implementation Manager (TIM) database which houses thousands of miles of trails within the Commonwealth along with significant attribute data about each segment (currently comprised of over 1,000 segments). The TIM will be introduced to the public for the first time through this session, giving attendees a first look and insight into the latest, most comprehensive trail implementation tool in Pennsylvania. This tool raises the bar on traditional trail management by geolocating, compiling and housing over 2,000 miles of trails, displayed in an interactive map and searchable database. This session will explore the trail management tool in all aspects: how the TIM came to be, the development of the tool, and how users will be able to engage with the database.

Speakers:

Katie Kovalchik, Director of Landscape Architecture | Environmental Planning & Design

Katie is a registered landscape architect and has been working on various trail feasibility study, planning and construction projects across Pennsylvania for the past 6 years. Katie holds her Bachelor of Landscape Architecture from Penn State University where she focused on working with people in their places which has translated into her professional work of helping communities connect and create urban spaces and cohesive trail connections. She has worked with over five communities throughout Pennsylvania to create purposeful places and trail connections in order to bring the surrounding communities to larger trail networks and open spaces. Her recent work with the Pennsylvania Environmental Council in developing the Trail Implementation Manager (TIM), the value of the tool and
the future trajectory will be the focus as she moderates this discussion.

Andrew JG Schwartz, Studio Director | Environmental Planning & Design

Frank Maguire, Program Director, Trails and Outdoor Recreation | Pennsylvania Environmental Council

Frank Maguire joined the Pennsylvania Environmental Council (PEC) after over a decade of trail work across Pennsylvania. His efforts focus on the Industrial Heartlands Trails Coalition along with the PA Water Trails Program, a statewide partnership that encourages the development of sustainable water trails. Prior to his work at PEC, he served as the Principal at Small Mountain Trails, LLC, a trail consulting firm he founded that focuses on educational workshops and assisting in community trail development. He also contributed to Dirt Rag Magazine as an Access Editor, where he was responsible for writing trail advocacy feature articles including risk management for mountain bike-specific trails and the changing nature of recreational trails. His experience also includes working as the Mid-Atlantic Regional Director of the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA) from 2009-14 and as the Partner and General Manager of Mt. Nittany Wheelworks from 2002-09.

Maguire, holds a B.A. in History from the American University in Washington, D.C., and has served as a board member on a number of reputable committees. His titles include working as the Vice President of the Penns Valley Conservation Association and participating as a Representative on both the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) Natural Gas Advisory Committee and the Pennsylvania DCNR Bureau of Forestry Recreational Advisory Committee.

1:00-2:45 | Addressing Nature-Based Placemaking, Active Transportation and Health within your Community Plans: How One Main Street Program is Doing it All (.1 CEU)

The Borough of Quakertown has utilized their Main Street designation to develop an evolved revitalization strategy that has identified Nature-Based Placemaking as a key priority. Learn how the community is benefiting when outdoor recreational activities, health, and wellness are incorporated into a strategy. This session will highlight the Nature-Based Placemaking concept, as well as the WalkWorks program, which provides funding and technical assistance to select communities to develop and adopt an Active Transportation Plan or similar policy. Hear firsthand from Quakertown Alive! about how they have benefitted from a WalkWorks grant, as they discuss the importance of connecting different community plans, processes, results, and recommended actions, and how their work can be adapted by other communities.

Presenters

Julie Fitzpatrick, Executive Director | Pennsylvania Downtown Center, Inc.
Julie has been with PDC since 2005 and was appointed as the Ex. Director in July 2019. She has been involved with a variety of projects in communities all over the commonwealth, including community visioning, developing regional downtown revitalization strategies, establishing tourism infrastructure plans, and developing business improvement district plans and other strategic planning activities. She also provides board and committee education and technical assistance to designated DCED Keystone Communities Main Street and Elm Street programs, as well as to communities that are non-designated. Currently, she is working with PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) on the concept of Nature-Based Placemaking and other fun projects. She has a Master of Science degree in Community and Regional Planning, a Bachelor of Arts degree in Art History and Anthropology from Temple University and has done coursework in their landscape architecture program.

Justin Lehman, Public Health Program Administrator | Pennsylvania Department of Health Bureau of Health Promotion and Risk Reduction
Justin Lehman is a Public Health Program Administrator in the Division of Nutrition and Physical Activity at the Pennsylvania Department of Health. Justin serves as the Physical Activity Coordinator on the CDC awarded State Physical Activity and Nutrition grant. He oversees WalkWorks, a program that aims to establish activity-friendly routes that connect to everyday destinations through the development and adoption of active transportation plans or similar policies.

Naomi Naylor, Executive Director | Quakertown Alive! – a Main Street Program
For 14 years, Naomi Naylor has served as Executive Director and Main Street Manager of Quakertown Alive!. Throughout her tenure as director, Naomi has worked tirelessly on the local and state levels to develop the Borough’s assets in order to bring in grants and assist with fundraising for crucial nature-based placemaking infrastructure such as the new state-of-the-art skate park, the inclusive playground to be constructed this summer, and the amphitheater that hosts a popular outdoor concert series featuring national acts, such as Trace Adkins and the Beach Boys. Naomi has worked to make Quakertown’s downtown more attractive to the many new trail users. Nine bicycle racks will soon join the two bicycle repair stations that are strategically located in the Borough. She heads our local WalkWorks Active Transportation Planning committee to improve accessibility to trails and greenspace for residents and visitors. Naomi has been an active member of the PA Downtown Center’s Board of Directors, where she served a term as President of the Board. She is also very busy as a Board member for several local non-profit organizations.

1:00-2:45 | Breaking Through Barriers: Outreach to Underserved Communities (.1 CEU)

Foreign languages. Cultural differences and isolation. Low education levels. Sometimes environmental outreach takes you way out of your professional and social circles. The Breaking Through Barriers training provides big concepts and practical tips to help you reach out to “underserved” audiences from all walks of life.

Presenter

Eric Eckl, Owner | Water Words That Work, LLC
Eric founded Water Words That Work, LLC as a marketing and public relations firm for clean water and environmental organizations. He oversees all the company’s client projects. Eric has more than 20 years experience planning and executing environmental outreach and communication programs. Eric is a sought-after conference speaker and has appeared on CNN and been quoted in the New York Times. Before starting the firm, Eric worked for Beaconfire Consulting, American Rivers, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Environmental Law Institute.

2:00-2:45 | Spaces for Species: Managing Trail Spaces for Invasive Species

This session will guide attendees as trail managers in the identification, control, and prevention of the occurrence of invasive species. While there are a myriad of negative impacts from invasive species, the deleterious effects on trail spaces and outdoor recreation are not always recognized. This presentation attempts to posit a “Know What You Have/Control What You’ve Got/Keep Out What You Don’t Want” attitude towards managing trail spaces. The focus of the presentation will be on terrestrial invasive vegetation, but aquatics and animals will also be touched on.

Presenter

Joseph Hudson, Watershed Specialist | Erie County Conservation District
Conservation scientist with more than twenty years of work in the natural resources and associated regulatory environment. Proficient in natural resources biology, chemistry, botany, ecology, and wildlife behavior. Adjunct professor at the graduate level, with teaching experience from preschool to adult and special needs students. Professional interests include Pennsylvania ecology, habitat management, and native species protection.

2:00-2:45 | Groundtruthing: A Rider’s Approach to Planning

Team members from the Pennsylvania Environmental Council will share experiences and lessons gleaned from conducting the Erie to Pittsburgh/PA Wilds Gap Assessment Report. This presentation will highlight the importance of taking a look at conditions beyond maps and aerials. The team will discuss constraints as well as the process employed to characterize trail type.

Presenters

Christopher Corbran, Program Coordinator for Trails and Recreation | Pennsylvania Environmental Council
Chris is a trails program coordinator with the Pennsylvania Environmental Council’s Pittsburgh office. In this role, he works to support Western PA trail groups and organizations in developing trails and raising awareness of existing opportunities for recreation. The Industrial Heartland Trails Coalition project is the focus of Chris’ work, as well as supporting PEC’s efforts in mapping, facilitation, and communications. As a former guide and outfitter, Chris has seen firsthand the benefits of long-distance multi-use trail systems on the region and the communities connected to the trail.

Helena Kotala, Mapping Coordinator | Pennsylvania Environmental Council
Helena is the mapping coordinator for the Pennsylvania Environmental Council. She is based out of the State College office but works across the state to provide GIS and mapping support to all of PEC’s programs, especially trails and recreation. A large component of her work is collecting information about existing trails as well as planned and potential trail corridors to help facilitate connectivity and long-distance trail development. She is an avid cyclist who is passionate about expanding opportunities for outdoor recreation and active transportation for all.

2:00-2:45 | Looking at the Trail from Both Sides: Utilizing Students for Sustaining and Growing Your Workforce

Brian and Justin will provide insight from a direct supervisor and student worker in a trail maintenance position. They will accomplish this by sharing a two-sided narrative which tells one story of the relationship between student workers and successful trail maintenance. This story includes benefits for the employer, students, and the environmental stewardship community. Furthermore, they will provide some best management practices on how to connect with students and find qualified candidates.

Presenters

Justin Kurtz, Grounds and Facilities Tram Work-Study Student | Shaver’s Creek Environmental Center
Justin Kurtz is a Penn State Senior majoring in Agricultural and Extension Education. His employment has included food-service, farm labor, landscaping and trail maintenance. In the Summer of 2020, he joined the ranks of the mighty Grounds and Facilities Team at Shaver’s Creek Environmental Center where he found his passion for dancing with a weed-whacker and serving others by maintaining areas of natural recreation. Mashed potatoes, flowers, and family are three things he loves outside of work and are ways to instantly build a friendship with Justin!

Brian Sedwick, Grounds and Facilities Tram Coordinator | Shaver’s Creek Environmental Center
Loyal.  Helpful.  Friendly.  Kind.  Brian Sedgwick has used these attributes as the building blocks of a successful facility-volunteer relationship.  Whether it is working with student volunteers on trail maintenance or teaching work study staff the hard and soft skills needed to complete a project, Brian believes that everyone can be given the chance to do anything.   Brian has been with Shaver’s Creek Environmental Center for 20 years, starting as an environmental educator and then taking on his current role as Grounds & Facilities Coordinator in 2005.   When he is not at work, Brian enjoys camping and birding with his family and serves as Scoutmaster of Troop 34 in Bellefonte, PA.

2:00-2:45 | Finding Your Way with Wayfinding and Other Signage

From rugged backcountry trails to multiuse urban trail facilities, signage is a critical part of trail design. All pedestrians and hikers rely on some level of navigation to find their way along a given route, and the National Park Service points out that “signs are probably the quickest and easiest way to leave the trail user with a positive impression.” Aside from the navigational aspects of wayfinding on the trail, signage provides an opportunity to create a sense of place, enhancing the trail experience and reinforcing organizational identity and values. Through branding, signs can promote a cohesive experience, and allow for communication of important trail features, reinforcement of trail etiquette and regulations, and aid in decision-making for trail users. Their importance in overall planning and design cannot be underestimated, and yet so often trails lack adequate signage to allow trail users to determine where they are and where they want to go – let alone enhance their trail experience through meaningful interpretation. This workshop will outline the importance of signage, using signage to enhance the user experience and increase accessibility, content consideration for signage, and technical guidelines for signs – so you won’t feel lost while planning signage for your trails.

Presenter

Sarah Walter, Planning and Design Manager | Penn Trails, LLC
Sarah Walter is a licensed Landscape Architect in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania with prior experience in municipal planning and land conservation. Sarah provides project management services, as well as leading project phases including GIS acquisition and mapping and CAD detail design. Prior to joining Penn Trails, Sarah worked in the Centre County Planning & Community Development Office for over 6 years as a Senior Planner, simultaneously administering the County Agricultural Land Preservation Program and serving as Executive Director for the Centre County Farmland Trust. She has coordinated documentation and placement of conservation easements for the Centre County Agricultural Land Preservation Program while working with Federal, State, County, Municipal, and non-profit stakeholders.

3:00-4:00 | Connecting Trails with PennDOT's Multi-Modal Programs (.1 CEU)

Trails usage has increased, especially during the last year.  For years, PennDOT has been supportive in leveraging funding to improve trails.  We have worked with DCNR, as a collaborative state partner, our MPOs and RPOs,  stakeholders and local grass root partners to improve Pennsylvania’s networks of trails.  Our overview will highlight our programs, funding sources, and our coordination efforts with other agencies, as well as our outreach to the community to enhance and support Pennsylvania’s beautiful trails, parks, and byways.  PennDOT has several programs in place to maintain, improve and expand our trails.  Our TA Set-Aside Program provides funding for projects defined as transportation alternatives, including on-and off-road pedestrian and bicycle facilities, infrastructure projects for improving non-driver access to public transportation and enhanced mobility, community improvement activities, and environmental mitigation, trails that serve a transportation purpose, and safe routes to school projects.  Our Recreational Trails Program supports DCNR’s goal to have a trail within 10 minutes of every Pennsylvania citizen. We work with DCNR to provide grants to support the enhancement and expansion of non-motorized and motorized trails to meet this goal.  Our Byways Program designates Pennsylvania Byways at the request of local communities seeking to highlight roadways with cultural, historical, recreational, archaeological, scenic, and natural qualities.  We will highlight a big success Byway story – Erie’s – Great Lake Seaway Trail.

Presenters

Jackie Koons-Felion, Transportation Planning Manager | PennDOT’s Center for Program Development and Management
Jackie has been with Pennsylvania Department of Transportation for over 35 years. She has worked in Highway Administration in various job capacities within Central Office and District 8-0 in Harrisburg and transitioned to the Planning Deputate’s Program Center for the last half of her career. She is the Transportation Planning Manager of the Air Quality and Federal Initiatives Section.

Janet Flynn, Transportation Planning Specialist | PennDOT’s Center for Program Development and Management
Janet has been with Pennsylvania Department of Transportation for over 22 years.  She has worked in the Bureau of Aviation, Bureau of Planning and Research, and the Center for Program Development and Management.  She currently works with the Transportation Management Association Program and the Byways Program in the Federal Initiatives Section of the Program Center.

3:00-4:00 | French Creek Water Trail - Transformation From Being a Water Trail “Manager” to Managing, Marketing, and Maintaining (.1 CEU)

French Creek Valley Conservancy hadn’t put much focus on French Creek as a water trail. Executive Director Brenda Costa attended a PEC Water Trail Managers meeting in 2019 and was inspired to do better. FCVC began a focused effort on managing and marketing the French Creek Water Trail. FCVC secured a number of grants to cover reprinting of water trail maps that are available to the public for free, and revamped our website to highlight French Creek as a water trail, including an interactive story map of launch locations. We also utilized grant funds to install educational panels at five launches highlighting sub basins in the watershed (an education goal of ours) and the unique biodiversity of French Creek.

Presenter

Brenda Costa, Executive Director | French Creek Valley Conservancy
Since 2016, Brenda Costa has been the Executive Director of French Creek Valley Conservancy in northwest PA. FCVC is an accredited land trust that protects over 3,000 acres in the watershed. Brenda earned her BS in Geology from Allegheny College and her MBA with a marketing concentration from Penn State. Brenda is a licensed professional geologist and previously worked as a reservoir analyst in the Gulf Coast, North Sea, and Norwegian Sea. She also worked as a geologic consultant specializing in groundwater development for 16 years. She is passionate about earth science education and gives a number of presentations for students, elementary through college age, each year. Brenda has kayaked 74 miles of French Creek and many of its major tributaries. She makes her home in Meadville, PA with her husband, two teen sons, and rescue German Shepherd.

3:00-4:00 | Action Steps to Engage Underserved Communities with Trails (.1 CEU)

Why might some People of Color (POC) who live near a trail not make use of it? What can trail managers and advocates do to encourage POC to use trails so that they might enjoy the many physical and mental benefits? To find out, the William Penn Foundation commissioned a study of the equity of access to Circuit Trails in four communities to provide data to guide the work of the Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (JEDI) Task Force of the Circuit Trails Coalition. Specifically, the study was designed to identify the motivators and barriers to trail use in diverse and underserved neighborhoods that are adjacent to Circuit Trails, to explore the perceptions of trails and the motivations of nearby residents, and to recommend the actions that would better connect and engage those residents with the trails.

Presenters

Eleanor Horne, Co-President | Lawrence Hopewell Trail
While Vice President of the Educational Testing Service Social Investment Fund, Horne created and led a strong community and philanthropic presence and enduring collaborations locally and nationally with organizations committed to educational equity and access. She is now a full-time volunteer leader actively engaged in organizations committed to education, expanding social justice, and enhancing communities. She serves as Co-President of the Lawrence Hopewell Trail Corporation, a unique public-private partnership in central New Jersey. She has chaired the boards of the Wells Fargo Regional Foundation, the National Council for Research on Women, and The College of New Jersey. Horne is currently a trustee of The College of New Jersey, the Association of Governing Boards of Colleges and Universities, and the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation. Horne is the recipient of many awards including an honorary doctorate for a career of public service from the University of Maryland Eastern Shore.

Daniel Paschall, Mid-Atlantic Coordinator | East Coast Greenway Alliance
Daniel Paschall is the Mid-Atlantic Regional Coordinator for the East Coast Greenway Alliance, working with local, state, and national partners to plan, advocate, and promote the development and usage of the East Coast Greenway, a 3,000-mile-long bicycle and pedestrian path from Maine to Florida. He has worked previously for the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy in New York City and the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission’s Office of Transit, Bicycle, and Pedestrian Planning in Philadelphia. Daniel is a planner and advocate for equitable and inclusive public space to create access to an improved quality of life.

3:00-4:00 | Rock Climbers: Your Unknown Stewards and Partners (.1 CEU)

Stewardship has been ingrained in the ethos of rock climbing since the first climbers headed into the mountains. The climbing community continues this tradition through working on trail projects, promoting volunteerism, inspiring conservation and connecting with the communities they climb in. However, this work and the needs of this user group can go unnoticed outside of the climbing community. Rock climbers are the stewards and partners you never knew you had!

This session will highlight projects across Pennsylvania as well as the nation for building and maintaining sustainable trails. Hear about the three Access Fund Conservation Teams zig-zagging the country taking on trail projects as well as their stops in PA. Learn what makes trail work at climbing sites unique as well as considerations for shared user groups. Create steps on how to engage with your local climbing community and LCOs (Local Climbing Organizations). Become a partner to the climbing community!

Presenters

Dana Caracciolo, Board Member & Access Fund Liaison | Eastern Pennsylvania Alliance of Climbers
Dana Caracciolo has been involved in the indoor and outdoor rock climbing industry for over 25 years. She holds a B.A. in Outdoor Recreational Leadership from Prescott College.  She currently manages two indoor rock climbing facilities as well as serves as an expedition leader, technical trainer and team building facilitator. In 2020, Dana was part of a group that founded the Eastern Pennsylvania Alliance of Climbers (EPAC) and now serves on the board. EPAC is a nonprofit dedicated to promoting and protecting climbing in cooperation with other land partners and user groups. In addition to advancing EPAC’s goals of stewardship and conservation, she spends a lot of time getting dirty doing restoration projects on local climbing trails. Dana’s goal is to elevate the advocacy work of the climbing community as a means of strengthening our common goal for a sustainable future in the outdoors.

Mike Morin, Northeast Regional Director | Access Fund
Mike is a lifelong conservationist who began exploring the outdoors as soon as he could walk while growing up in Bradley, Maine. He developed a lifelong appreciation for nature while hunting and fishing in the woods and on waters of his home state. Mike holds a B.S. in Parks, Recreation, and Tourism from the University of Maine and spent a decade working in land management as a park ranger and outdoor recreation management coordinator in Maine and Colorado before joining the Access Fund in 2014. That year Mike embarked on a three year journey around the U.S. with his wife Amanda as members of the Access Fund-Jeep Conservation Team with the mission of supporting volunteer stewardship efforts and leading professional trail building workshops at climbing areas in collaboration with local, state, and federal land managers. In 2017 he returned to his New England roots, settling in the White Mountains of New Hampshire with his wife. He now leads the Access Fund’s efforts to keep climbing areas open and conserved in the Northeast, and also manages the organization’s nationwide fixed anchor replacement program, which provides grants, tools, and training to volunteers replacing bolts at their home climbing areas.

3:00-4:00 | ICC Railroad Valuation Maps and Other Records: Springboard to Control of the Land for your Bike Trail (.1 CEU)

If you own a bike trail, or plan to build one, and don’t know precisely where the railroad operations were located, or the past history of the land, then Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) Railroad Valuation Maps and associated historical records, are key. The presenter of this session is a former trial attorney that has spent over 5 years obtaining and relying on ICC Valuation Maps to help resolve land title disputes, as well as point the way to resolve past and current land ownership. This session will exploreICC Valuation Maps and Records, the history of land distribution in NW PA (as well as earlier locations in the state), and how one goes about determining title based on historical treatises and county recorders records – as often partially or completely obtaining by inexpensive on-line subscription services.

Presenter

Robert L. Jennings Jr., Esq., President | Allegheny River Trail in Clarion County
My background is that of a toxic tort plaintiff’s trial attorney, that focused on occupational disease issues for almost 30 years. I then mostly retired to northwest PA, and have been volunteering on rails to trails issues for local groups for close to 10 years. About 5 years ago, three of us locally set up a nonprofit to try to complete the bike trail along the Allegheny River in Clarion County, focusing first on Emlenton to Foxburg. We currently have 1.0 miles of the corridor under our control, and discussions continue with remaining landowners.

3:00-4:00 | Building Beautiful Creek Side Trails: How to Design, Permit, and Construct Trails in Regulated Floodways (.1 CEU)

Installing a trail next to a creek or stream provides numerous benefits. Biking or walking along a body of water provides a scenic experience for trail users, providing an escape from the busy world along a corridor that may be otherwise inaccessible to the public. The process of installing a trail next to a creek or stream can be daunting in areas that are designated as FEMA Regulated Floodways. This session will present several case studies including Jordan Creek Greenway – City of Allentown, Jordan Creek Greenway – South Whitehall Township, MLK Trail – City of Allentown, and Neshaminy Creek Trail – Bucks County.The presentation will detail the design approach, provide guidance on the environmental permitting process, and discuss lessons learned during construction.

Presenters

Chris Stanford, Department Manager – Transportation | Michael Baker International
Chris is a professional civil engineer, professional traffic operations engineer and certified project management professional with over 25 years of experience designing and managing transportation and bicycle/pedestrian projects in eastern Pennsylvania. He has managed a wide variety of projects with a construction value up to $32 million dollars through the entire planning, design and construction process. He holds a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from Lafayette College and a Master’s Degree in Civil Engineering from Villanova University. Chris also has 20 years of specialized expertise in shared use path, rails to trails, safe routes to school, greenway planning, design and construction projects.

Bill Torr, Project Manager | Michael Baker International
Bill Torr, PE has over a decade of experience serving as a project manager and lead designer for a wide range of trail and roadway projects throughout eastern PA with anticipated construction costs totaling approximately $20 million dollars.  He has been the lead designer of numerous trails within regulated floodways. His active transportation project experience includes rail trails, urban trails, park trails, streetscapes, RRFB crossings, ADA accessibility, trailhead parking lots, and playground design.  He holds a B.S. in Civil Engineering from Drexel University.

Steve DiSciullo, Project Manager | Michael Baker International
Steve DiSciullo, PE is a multi-modal and active transportation project manager with 10 years of experience.  His projects include bicycle and pedestrian trails, sidewalks, complete streets, feasibility studies, ADA improvements, streetscapes, bike/ped master plans and public outreach.  Steve holds a B.S. in Civil Engineering from Drexel University, and is currently working towards an MBA. In his free time, you can find him on quick, gravely rides through the Wissahickon Park and Forbidden Drive.

Danielle Elwell, Environmental Specialist | Michael Baker International
Danielle is experienced in a wide range of environmental disciplines from assessments/investigations to compliance to National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) documentation to permitting. With regards to permitting, Danielle has completed Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP) Chapter 105/106 general and individual applications in several Pennsylvania counties, including Joint Permit Applications (JPA) for a variety of trails, trail systems, and transportation improvement projects, including bridges and roadways. Danielle has also assisted in wetland delineations.

Tuesday, September 21

9:00-10:00 | Progressive Access: Beginning to Help People with Developmental Disabilities to Experience Land and Water Trails (.1 CEU)

Most of the work undertaken to date to improve access to parks and preserves for people with disabilities has focused on assuring that the design of trails and related infrastructure is aligned with federal guidelines derived from the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). While these efforts have been invaluable in helping to reconnect populations with the most significant levels of disability to nature, there is a growing awareness that those with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (I/DD) and related conditions like Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) also struggle to break through other barriers to accessing and enjoying the outdoors. The Land Trust Alliance (LTA) has recognized the significance of these gaps, and will soon publish national guidelines for improving the inclusion of people with disabilities, with the goal of increasing access to preserves and engagement in conservation efforts.

Drawing on his training as a clinical psychologist, and experience as a father to a young woman with significant I/DD and related conditions (Margot), Dr. Peter Doehring has developed Progressive Access, a framework for understanding and systematically overcoming barriers to help people like Margot enjoy the outdoors. In this presentation, Dr. Doehring will describe how to use Progressive Access to identify opportunities to connect people with I/DD and related conditions in your communities to land and water trails in place or under development. Specifically, Dr. Doehring will describe how eight steps across two phases of Progressive Access – Education, Environment, Equipment, and Engagement, and then Execution, Enjoyment, Evaluation, and Endurance – can be used to create successful experiences hiking a land trail or paddling a water trail. This presentation targets organizations with established land or water trails, and which have already begun to take active steps to accommodate people with disabilities.

Presenter

Dr. Peter Doehring | Kennett Ability Network
A psychologist specializing in the education and treatment of people with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (I/DD), Peter has led school-, hospital-, and university-based programs in the USA and Canada. His interest in those whose levels of disability would have previously resulted in institutionalization took on greater urgency when his daughter Margot was born with I/DD. Peter presents internationally on ASD, and publishes books on research-based practices, programs, and policies on ASD. He partners with local schools and agencies to create new opportunities for young adults with I/DD to be full members of their communities. He has served as Board Chair for the Land Conservancy for Southern Chester County that has protected over 1500 acres in the region. He also serves on the Council on Disabilities for the Land Trust Alliance.

9:00-10:00 | Water Trail Boat Launch Design (.1 CEU)

Water trails are boat routes suitable for canoes, kayaks, and small motorboats. On many water trails, put-in and take-out sites can be developed to accommodate both motorized and human-powered boats and incorporate ADA features to enhance water trail accessibility. Learn about basic boat launch design elements, considerations, and resources to improve planning and development of water trails to enhance the user experience.

Speaker:

Paul Urbanik, Director of Engineering | PA Fish & Boat Commission

9:00-10:00 | Applying Meaningful Community Engagement to Trail Projects (.1 CEU)

Are you interested in undertaking community engagement to inform a trial project? Many organizations understand that efforts to gather feedback about conservation projects are necessary, yet community engagement for such projects is often used to affirm existing assumptions rather than an opportunity to gain new perspectives. As a result, workshops and surveys often barely scrape the surface of meaningful inclusion and engagement, resulting in feedback that is unintentionally biased and incomplete, and perpetuate the exclusion of marginalized communities in the conservation and outdoor sphere. This interactive workshop will detail the community engagement process undertaken by the Penn Trails Team for a large scale trail master plan in upstate New York, including a community engagement process designed to include input of non-traditional, or potential trail user communities. Stakeholder feedback was used to address issues of inclusion and access in the trail system and enhance community relationships. Learn about how you can design a similar process, including the values that established the project design, methods of listening more deeply, and how feedback was integrated into trail designs and the final master plan. This workshop will also explore limitations and lessons learned to allow your land trust to explore what is appropriate for you.

Presenters

Sarah Walter, Planning and Design Manager | Penn Trails, LLC
Sarah Walter is a licensed Landscape Architect in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania with prior experience in municipal planning and land conservation. Sarah provides project management services, as well as leading project phases including GIS acquisition and mapping and CAD detail design. Prior to joining Penn Trails, Sarah worked in the Centre County Planning & Community Development Office for over 6 years as a Senior Planner, simultaneously administering the County Agricultural Land Preservation Program and serving as Executive Director for the Centre County Farmland Trust. She has coordinated documentation and placement of conservation easements for the Centre County Agricultural Land Preservation Program while working with Federal, State, County, Municipal, and non-profit stakeholders.

Karen Strong, Principal | Strong Outcomes, LLC
Karen is the principal of Strong Outcomes, LLC, a consulting company that works with organizations that conserve land, wildlife, and water on strategy, planning, community engagement, and organizational development. She is deeply committed to science-based decision-making and evaluation yet believes that conservation will have limited success unless we can successfully work with people. Over the past 20 years, She has helped to build capacity to conserve natural resources in dozens of communities and organizations and is always thinking about how we can make conservation more relevant to more people.

9:00-10:00 | The Past, Present, and Future of Trail Towns (.1 CEU)

Pennsylvania could be considered the “home state” of Trail Towns. The model was first imagined and implemented along the Great Allegheny Passage before being adapted throughout the U.S. and Canada. This session will share the history of Trail Towns and how it has been modified for use in other places. Particular attention will also be given to the best practices, which range from understanding your market to sharing your community’s story and extending a welcoming invitation to your trail and town.

Presenter

Amy Camp, Owner | Cycle Forward
Amy Camp founded Cycle Forward in 2013 with the plan to help communities better connect to and benefit from their trails. She is a trails and tourism consultant, a placemaker, and a certified coach. She helped to launch the nationally recognized Trail Town Program® in 2007. She has since offered her consulting services along trails of all types throughout the U.S. and Canada. Amy’s book, ‘Deciding on Trails: 7 Practices of Healthy Trail Towns’, was published in December 2020. Amy serves on the Board of the Continental Divide Trail Coalition and was on the Board of American Trails from 2012-17. She is an Associate Certified Coach through the International Coach Federation and firmly believes that her coaching certification makes her a better consultant. Amy lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where she first grew to love communities and began her work to help improve them.

9:00-10:00 | Beyond the Footpath: Landscape Conservation Along the Appalachian Trail (.1 CEU)

Originally published in the October 1921 edition of the Journal of the American Institute of Architects, Benton MacKaye’s groundbreaking article inspired the creation of the Appalachian Trail (A.T.). The iconic Appalachian Trail was originally conceptualized as a mega greenway that would serve as a wilderness and escape from modern living and stress. Every year, millions set foot on the Appalachian Trail (A.T.), whether for an afternoon stroll or a thru-hike from Maine to Georgia. But if you were to ask visitors the parts of their hikes that they remember the most, the footpath itself is not likely the main thing people will mention. Instead, they will explain how breathtaking the views are from the summits, or the times they saw a moose or deer and listened to songbirds. They will talk about the communities they stopped in along the way, providing a sense of each community’s unique character. And they will mention the brightness of the stars at night, and the time where the only sound was the breath of the wind through the leaves.

One of the most important aspects of protecting this realm is landscape conservation. This work ensures healthy ecosystems, protects the habitats of native plants and animals, as well as vital natural resources such as clean drinking water, and provides tourism dollars and support for Trailside communities.

Now that the majority of the footpath is secured and well-managed, MacKaye’s vision continues to inspire and guide the Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC) as it evolves and deploys landscape conservation work to ensure the A.T. and its surrounding landscape are protected forever for all to enjoy. Returning to the original concept is leading the ATC to secure the future of the corridor as a greenway that supports: natural beauty, climate resiliency, the hiker experience, strengthened shared stewardship, and engaging new people and partners. Learn how these new goals are taking shape in conservation landscapes across Pennsylvania.

Presenters

Katie Hess, Director of the South Mountain Partnership & Director of Pennsylvania Landscape Conservation | Appalachian Trail Conservancy
Katie Hess is Director of the South Mountain Partnership (SMP) and Co-founder and Director of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy’s (ATC) on-the-ground Landscape Conservation program. Hess has 15 years of experience in connecting people and organizations with the knowledge and resources needed to overcome challenges. As the Director of the SMP, one of eight Conservation Landscapes (Pennsylvania Dept. of Conservation and Natural Resources), she leads over 40 local committee members and partners in preserving the regions’ sense of place and unique assets through programs that motivate citizens and elected officials to take on the challenge of effective land use planning, investment, civic engagement, and revitalization. As the Director of Pennsylvania Landscape Conservation for the ATC, she scales the models developed in the Conservation Landscapes and builds a program that leverages Pennsylvania’s landscape-scale investments with the Appalachian Trail – the largest East Coast Climate Corridor and national park – and the Appalachian Trail Landscape Partnership network. Prior to joining the ATC, Hess managed GIS mapping and data for Pennsylvania’s surveyed above ground cultural resources at the Pennsylvania State Historic Preservation Office. While there, she developed the bureau’s community and landscape scale preservation efforts. Katie earned a Master of Landscape Architecture from the Stuckeman School of Arts and Architecture, Pennsylvania State University. Previously, Hess was employed in cooperative research at the Penn State Fruit Research and Extension Center and earned a BA in Environmental Science & Policy from Hood College, where she interned in the Maryland Governor’s Office and researched the effect of land use and policy on water quality in Frederick County, Maryland.

Katie Allen, ATC Landscape Partnership Manager | Appalachian Trail Conservancy
Katie Allen serves as the Manager of the Appalachian Trail Landscape Partnership, a collaborative of over 100 partners working to connect the wild, scenic and cultural wonders of the Appalachian Trail and its surrounding landscape. Prior to joining the ATC, Katie was the Director of The Conservation Fund’s Conservation Leadership Network (CLN) leading a range of services related rural economic development, strategic conservation planning, and market-based conservation finance. She looks to build collaborative solutions to meet shared goals that build connections between communities, recreation, and conservation. She holds a Master of City and Regional Planning degree in Environmental and Land Use Planning from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and a Bachelor of Science degree in Communications from Boston University.

9:00-10:00 | How the Built Environment Impacts a Community's Health and Well-being (.1 CEU)

The Blue Zones Project is a community well-being improvement initiative focused on creating sustainable changes that help make the healthy choice the easy choice. Based on research by Dan Buettner, the community model’s work focuses on People, Places, and Policy to create an optimal environment for positive change, helping people live longer, better.

Speakers:

Ashley Lawson, Public Policy Advocate | Blue Zones Project Corry

Immediately prior to joining the Blue Zones Project, Ashley was the Honors Program Coordinator at Gannon University where she received her Master of Public Administration degree. Ashley is committed to her community and believes everyone can and should do something to make a difference in their town. She sits on the board of the Erie Metropolitan Transit Authority and the board of trustees for the Jefferson Educational Society where she is also President of their Civic Leadership Academy Alumni Network. In 2019 Ashley was named one of Erie Reader’s “40 Under 40” for her continued commitment to the region. Her passion for public policy stems from a hope that everyone can love their community as much as she does. Focusing on the Blue Zones Project work in the Built Environment, Food Policy, and Tobacco Policy she aims to make Corry a happy, healthy, and attractive community for its residents and visitors.

Shannon Wohlford, Engagement Lead | Blue Zones Project Corry

10:15-11:00 | Trail Crossings: Mapping the Gap

PennDOT recognizes that with over 12,000 miles of trails in Pennsylvania, often the gaps in the trail network are where the trail crosses a state road. The new trail gap mapping process will provide needed guidance to PennDOT staff and planning partners to allow consistent collection of data for trails crossing state roads. As projects advance through scoping, this data will allow the PennDOT Connects process to identify needed improvements to trail crossings.

This presentation will cover the GIS database, the pilot project in PennDOT District 4 and lessons learned.

Speakers:

Roy Gothie, Statewide Bicycle and Pedestrian Coordinator | PennDOT

PennDOT’s Statewide Bicycle and Pedestrian Coordinator has eleven years of experience in the transportation field working in planning, programming, and policy as well as his current involvement in active transportation. In his capacity with PennDOT he works with a wide range of internal and external stakeholders to craft policy and legislation, provide educational outreach, and facility design guidance that allows the Department to utilize innovative roadway design standards and significantly improve safety for all roadway users. Mr. Gothie is a graduate of the University of Michigan with master’s degrees in Urban Planning (2008) and Resource Planning and Policy (2007).

April Hannon, District Bicycle and Pedestrian Coordinator | PennDOT

10:15-11:00 | Small Trails, Big Impact!

The 50 acres of property surrounding the Nature Center at Asbury Woods is bordered by major thoroughfare roads and suburban sprawl, but this small parcel of land holds a treasure-trove of ecological diversity and the perfect way to introduce new visitors to the wonders of nature.

While it may not be the big forest or trail adventure that more seasoned outdoor enthusiasts seek, it has served as an ideal way to acclimate new audiences to the concepts of outdoor recreation, environmental education and conservation.

As Asbury Woods expands and diversifies their outreach and inclusion programs, this parcel of property provides excellent opportunities to bridge the gap from concrete and cityscapes to the natural world.

In this session we will discuss strategies for forming strategic partnerships to reach underserved populations in meaningful ways to meet all program partner objectives and techniques to ease the transition into outdoor, wooded and trail landscapes.

Presenters

Jennifer Farrar, Executive Director | Asbury Woods
Jennifer Farrar joined Asbury Woods as Executive Director in December 2017. She previously served as Director of Community Development for EmergyCare for 7 years overseeing the growth of their development, marketing and public relations programs. She was also responsible for the education department. She has been engaged in philanthropic work for more than 20 years. She has been a member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals since 2003, holding a variety of chapter positions including treasurer and president. Jennifer is a 1998 graduate of Penn State Erie, The Behrend College, with a B.A. in History. A lifelong outdoor enthusiasts, Jennifer is thrilled to blend her personal passions with her professional experience introducing people to nature, modeling conservation practices and providing education to thousands of school children each year. When not at Asbury Woods, Jennifer can be found hiking, kayaking, cycling and sailing with her teenage sons.

Melissa Goodwill, Education Staff Member | Asbury Woods
Melissa Goodwill has always had a passion for nature and has worked in the environmental education field for 12 years.  She began her career with Asbury Woods in 2009, but has also worked seasonally for Pennsylvania DCNR and the National Park Service in Alaska.  As an environmental educator Melissa has developed and presented engaging programming to audiences of all ages.  Making nature accessible and enjoyable to everyone in her community is one of her biggest goals. Melissa holds master’s degrees in both Environmental Education and Parks & Resource Management from Slippery Rock University.  In her spare time Melissa can be found hiking, reading, and spending time with her family and rescue dog Brody.

10:15-11:00 | From Paper to Footsteps: Utilizing Grant Funding for Trail Construction

A trail construction project on public lands can be quite costly, and it requires resources and partnerships. We’ll take a look at the Erie County Conservation District’s trail expansion and park improvement project in Headwaters Park, a 70-acre public greenspace in Millcreek Township, Erie County, PA, and how all the funding pieces came together to allow more public access to the space.

Partnerships are a key component to the success of any project, especially this one. Here we’ll explore the genesis and strengthening of those partnerships, and navigate the grant opportunities available to governmental entities and non-profit organizations. Integral players in the success of the Headwaters Park Improvement project were the PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR), the County of Erie and the Erie County Gaming Revenue Authority (ECGRA). Emphasis will also be placed on the “Post-Grant Award” time period, where planning, design, bidding and construction all occur.

This session intends to bolster confidence and encourage entities to apply for available trail grant funding.

Presenter

Tom McClure, District Manager | Erie County Conservation District
Tom serves as the District Manager for the Erie County Conservation District. In his role, he oversees the performance and financial administration of all of the District’s programs. These include the Erosion and Sedimentation delegation, the Agricultural Nutrient Management and the PA VinES programs, Environmental Education, Dirt & Gravel and Low Volume Roads and the operations of Headwaters Park. He enjoys working with his staff of seven outstanding individuals, who positively contribute to local conservation efforts. Tom’s focuses on strengthening positive relationships with our municipalities and our local and state representatives. Outreach to the District’s neighbors and partners are a vital component for a resilient future. He is passionate about the many facets of the District’s mission, mainly the environmental education for the youth of Erie County. He is a graduate of the Pennsylvania State University School of Forestry with a B.S. in Wood Products.

10:15-Noon | Make Trails Welcoming and Safe for all People: Become More Aware, Informed, and Better Equipped to Take Action (.1 CEU)

This session is for trail advocates and enthusiasts interested in investing time to broaden your understanding of systemic racism and how your group, organization, or company can form a community that fosters Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Justice (DEIJ). This 90-minute workshop will feature Sara Painter, Lina Beron Echavarria, Tykee James, and Valerie Bader, who have worked to create a DEIJ community since April 2020. This session provides a forum for people to share experiences, learn about and advance effective practices, and identify opportunities to individually and collectively promote diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice in conservation work and environmental organizations. The panel will share lessons learned, approaches, and survey results as well as host a listening session and a Q&A.

Presenters

Sara Painter, Director of Outreach & Development | WeConservePA
Sara joined WeConservePA’s staff in May 2019. Her roles include outreach to Pennsylvania conservation organizations, developing community partnerships, managing donor relations, and grant writing. She is a senior fellow of the Environmental Leadership Program and a leader for The Climate Reality Project. She graduated from West Chester University and studied writing at the University of Iowa.  Prior to joining WeConservePA, Sara served as director of marketing and development for French & Pickering Creeks Conservation Trust, where she led fundraising activities for land conservation in northern Chester County. Sara has also worked for the Los Angeles Stage Alliance and The Colony Theatre Company in Burbank, California.

Lina Berón Echavarría, Conservation Advocate | WeConservePA
As the Conservation Advocate at WeConservePA, Lina tracks state legislation that affects conservation and advocates for the state’s dedicated environmental funds. She coordinates the Growing Greener Coalition’s communications and social media outreach and serves as WeConservePA’s DEIJ Programming Pod Liaison. Prior to joining WeConservePA, Lina spent six years studying environmental issues from an interdisciplinary perspective, focusing on the cultural and socio-economic dimensions of land conservation. Growing up in one of Ecuador’s most biodiverse regions, Lina became a nature enthusiast at an early age. Her connection with the cloud-forest landscape she calls home fuels her work as a conservation advocate.

Tykee James Government Affairs Coordinator | National Audubon Society
Tykee James is the government affairs coordinator at the National Audubon Society and sits on the board of directors of the DC Audubon Society, Wyncote Audubon Society, Audubon Maryland-DC, and the Academy of Natural Sciences. After moving to DC almost two years ago, he is most grounded in his special role: organizing bird walks with members of Congress and congressional staff! Tykee has made his residency in this work building from his experience in Philadelphia, his hometown. His first job was an environmental educator and community organizer in his own neighborhood. Tykee would also serve a State Representative as her environmental policy advisor and further develop his leadership abilities with the Environmental Leadership Program. In his personal time he is the audio producer for Wildlife Observer Network, a wildlife media project he started with some wildlife-friendly friends in Philly. Tykee hosts two podcasts: Brothers in Birding and On Word for Wildlife.

Valerie Bader, Director of Trail Operations | North Country Trail
Val Bader is the Director of Trail Operations for the North Country Trail Association; the non-profit partner managing the 8-state, 4,600 mile North Country National Scenic Trail. Val lives in Pittsburgh, PA and has worked in non-profit trails for over 20 years. She has been involved with We Conserve PA’s DEIJ committee since its inception. Val also serves on NCTA’s Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (JEDI) Committee and works with the Partnership for the National Trails System’s JEDI efforts.

10:15-Noon | Incorporating Bicycles into the Downtown (.1 CEU)

The Lackawanna Luzerne Transportation Study Metropolitan Planning Organization led a two city, two county bicycle and pedestrian study in the Central Business Districts (CBD) of Scranton and Wilkes-Barre. The two cities have long distance trails that will eventually connect to them. The study examined destinations within each CBD, outside the city and into the suburbs, routes currently used, and routes pedestrians and cyclist prefer to use. Over a half a dozen public input methods were used to gather input throughout the study in a multitude of in-person meetings, on-site visits, and online formats. Various types of bicycle facilities were examined to provide a network that met all ages, abilities, and skills. The proposed bicycle networks for each city connected the CBD to the long-distance trails and proposed a system of various bicycle facilities to incorporate all streets within the CBD, as well as, various comfort levels of the cyclist. Join us as we unfold the unique approach of the Central Business District Pedestrian and Bicycle study of Scranton and Wilkes-Barre.

Presenters

Stephanie Milewski, AIA, Senior Project Manager | Barry Isett & Associates, Inc.
Ms. Milewski is a registered landscape architect with 20+ years of experience in outdoor recreation and trails, including eight years as the Trail Manager for Lackawanna Heritage Valley. As an avid cyclist and hiker, Ms. Milewski sits on the planning committee for the NEPA Trails Forum, a group of trail developers, managers, and supporters that meet on a quarterly basis to network and share their successes, challenges, and expertise. Ms. Milewski led the planning study.

Robert Thomas, AIA, Partner | Campbell Thomas & Co.
Bob Thomas is a founding partner of Campbell Thomas & Co. Architects, a firm noted since 1976 for sustainable community development, affordable housing, historic preservation, energy conscious design, trails and greenways, accessible design and appropriate design. For over 40 years he has helped to build a lifestyle and a network of friends, colleagues and life/work partners that have enabled him to pursue these socially important projects with often limited budgets. Bob has led outdoor tours for decades in city and countryside.   Bob’s contributions have been recognized by many awards, including PRPS’s Fred Coombs Honor Award for lifetime achievement, PEC’s Curtin Winsor Award for a history of projects producing positive impacts on Pennsylvania’s quality of life, and Rails-to-Trails’ designation as a National Rail Trail Champion.  He continues to ride his bicycle to work every day taking different trails, bike lanes, and back streets.

Steve Pitoniak, Planning Department Manager | Lackawanna County Regional Planning Commission
Steve has been a planner with the Lackawanna County Regional Planning Commission for over 40 years. He started with the LCRPC after graduation from Penn State University with a bachelor’s degree in Community Development. Over the years he has been involved in all areas of planning from environmental to housing with an emphasis on Transportation and Land Use. His current position is Planning Department Manager where he provides oversight for the department. He is Chair of the Technical Committee of the Lackawanna Luzerne Transportation Study, the Metropolitan Planning Organization for the Scranton Wilkes-Barre Metro area, and Chairs the Lackawanna County Local Emergency Planning Committee.

Chris Chapman, Transportation Planner | Luzerne County Planning and Zoning
Mr. Chapman has 6 years of experience in transportation planning. All of his experience has been within the Lackawanna/Luzerne Transportation Study Metropolitan Planning Organization region. He handles the planning and implementation of the Transportation Improvement Program, Long-Range Transportation Plan and the Bicycle and Pedestrian Study for the Central Business Districts of Scranton and Wilkes-Barre. Mr. Chapman holds a bachelor’s degree in Operations Management from the University of Scranton.

10:15-12:15 | Inclusive Trails from the Ground Up: Part 1 (classroom) (.2 CEU)

In part one of this two part series, Larry & Sara will cover the conceptual background and practical skills needed to plan, design, construct, and maintain trails that serve as wide a range of users as possible, while also minimizing environmental impact.

Presenters

Larry Knutson, Principal | Penn Trails, LLC
Larry Knutson is the founder and President of Penn Trails, LLC, an active member company of the Professional Trail Builders Association, North America’s largest private sector group of professional trail specialists, contractors, designers and consultants. A cloud-based company located near Carlisle, Pennsylvania, Penn Trail works nationwide to create trails for people. Working with public, private, and non-profit landowners to plan, design, and implement environmental and experiential solutions. We provide guidance and direction that addresses trail planning for unique and challenging environments. We focus on universal design and support for diverse groups of users, along with sustainable management of trails and other site features as an integrated element of the natural resource assets. Since 2008, we have helped to assess, conceptualize, plan, budget and construct hundreds of miles of trails and pathways. In addition, Penn Trails offers a wide range of professional trails training.

Sarah Walter, Planning and Design Manager | Penn Trails, LLC
Sarah Walter is a licensed Landscape Architect in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania with prior experience in municipal planning and land conservation. Sarah provides project management services, as well as leading project phases including GIS acquisition and mapping and CAD detail design. Prior to joining Penn Trails, Sarah worked in the Centre County Planning & Community Development Office for over 6 years as a Senior Planner, simultaneously administering the County Agricultural Land Preservation Program and serving as Executive Director for the Centre County Farmland Trust. She has coordinated documentation and placement of conservation easements for the Centre County Agricultural Land Preservation Program while working with Federal, State, County, Municipal, and non-profit stakeholders.

11:15-Noon | Going Solo: Making Self-guided Trail Experiences Accessible, User-friendly and Engaging

During the past year, recreational trail networks have seen unprecedented numbers of users as individuals in our communities are seeking safe ways to enjoy outdoor activities, and in this Asbury Woods is no exception. Asbury Woods is a 205 acre park that is both free to the public and accessible nearly every day of the year for public use and enjoyment. Our nearly 5 mile trail network, located in a suburban landscape, has been an oasis in the community for anyone seeking recreational opportunities, connection to nature, and environmental education. To maximize the potential for engagement with both new and returning trail users, Asbury Woods has expanded our focus on self-guided programming and experiences. These experiences are designed to deliver positive, meaningful connections to nature with minimal physical interaction between our staff and trail users. This has allowed us to step outside our traditional model of educator-led community activities to include new ways of promoting exploration on our trails and remain flexible and relevant during this rapidly changing time.

In this session, we will reveal some of the strategies we have used to connect new users with our trail network, share in-person activities we have developed, and discuss some of the ways we continue to keep visitors engaged and returning for more solo adventures. Participants in this session will learn about the tools and resources we’ve found most useful and will leave with self-guided programming ideas that can be adapted to many trail types and locations.

Presenter

Jessica Stefano, Education Staff Member | Asbury Woods
Jessica Stefano is a full-time educator at Asbury Woods in Erie, Pennsylvania. With nearly two decades of experience as a leader, community program organizer, and educator within various industries, Jessica has spent the last two years at Asbury Woods connecting people to nature, providing formal and informal environmental education opportunities for people of all ages, and sharing her love of nature and the outdoors with the Northwest Pennsylvania region.

11:15-Noon | Variety of Trailheads along the Westmoreland Heritage Trail

This session will present 5 or 6 case studies of the Westmoreland Heritage Trail’sTrailheads to reveal the wide variety of legal and physical arrangements that exist, or that are in the process of being defined. Showcased trailheads include: public-private partnerships, inter-governmental cooperative agreements, ambitious joint ventures to develop a 91-foot span pedestrian bridge over Turtle Creek to link the WHT situated in Westmoreland County with the trailhead/park in Allegheny County , informal handshake arrangements, and a proposed shared facility in Reserve lands of the Westmoreland Conservancy to serve both the needs of the Conservancy, as well as be a trailhead for the adjacent WHT. This session will show how, with persistent goodwill and a spirit of cooperation, good things can be advanced for the mutual benefit of our communities and conservation.

Presenters

Jeffrey Richards, Parks Planning Coordinator | Westmoreland County Bureau of Parks and Recreation
Mr. Richards serves as the Parks Planning Coordinator for the Westmoreland County Bureau of Parks and Recreation, where he works on Parks, Greenways, and Trails. He coordinates capital improvements within the County’s 10 parks and advances the development of multi-purpose trails, building on and extending the 5 rail-trails currently in various stages of implementation in Westmoreland County. He is a registered Landscape Architect, having practiced in Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania. His focus is re-shaping our built and natural environments in ways that provide us all with a more sustainable future. The development of pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods, complete streets, active transportation systems, trails and greenways are essential embodiments of this green infrastructure focus.

Paul Estok, Director of Parks and Recreation | Municipality of Monroeville
Mr. Estok serves at Director/Coordinator for the Municipality of Monroeville Recreation Department. He is responsible for the overall management and direction of Municipal parks and recreation services and programs.  The work involves a wide range of management functions including supervision of staff, developing policies, developing and maintaining the department’s budget and coordinating departmental programs for parks, trails and recreation.

Shelly Tichy, President | Westmoreland Conservancy
Shelly Joined the all-volunteer Westmoreland Conservancy October 2000 and stepped up to the Board in 2001. She has served as secretary, treasurer, and vice president at various times, and as president from 2008 – 2014, and again from 2016 – present. Westmoreland Conservancy achieved accreditation in 2013 and renewed in 2019. In addition to her work with the Conservancy, Shelly works full time and has also volunteered at an assisted living facility for the past 19 years doing a music & memories program with the residents. She retired from teaching ballroom dancing after 30 years.

11:15-Noon | Do Communities Build Trails or do Trails build the Community?

The Corry Junction Greenway Trail has been historically used by trail enthusiasts, but 2020 drove usage to double from July 2020 through February 2021! Like most areas, Corry’s finances tightened with COVID. How to develop trails then? What was needed? What started as a question has morphed into a plan and movement to extend trails in and around Corry. To link green spaces and provide places and opportunities for individuals to meet each other and talk instead of just waving when passing each other in cars. This session will describe what was done right, what was missed and what would be modified. The session will also provide insight to inventory community skills and organize for success, as well as discuss the surprise benefit of improving community relationships and offer methods to leverage that for success.

Speakers:

Kimberly Hawkes, Improve & Link our Green Spaces Champion | Impact Corry

Kim is a volunteer with Impact Corry, and an improve our link green spaces champion, and also a board member with Impact Corry and the Corry Community Foundation.  As principal of Hawkes Enterprises, LLC, Kimp provides consulting services specializing in operation excellence, process improvement, project management and more.

Marty Radock, Trail Advocate | Impact Corry

1:00-4:00 | Urban Erie Greenways Tour (Mobile) (.2 CEU)

Greenways located in urbanized areas contend with conditions that can be quite different from non-urban areas, such as dense built environments, a lack of natural land, and sociopolitical dynamics. In Erie – as with other “legacy” cities experiencing decades of population decline – neighborhoods are repurposing and “greening” vacant or blighted spaces as part of revitalization efforts – and they’re using planning, private/public partnerships, diverse funding sources, and resident engagement to get it done! During this three-hour field tour, we’ll visit four neighborhood parks in the City of Erie contributing to broader networks of greenspaces and ways and hear about the development of each from those leading the initiatives.

Speakers:

Anna Frantz, Executive Director | Our West Bayfront

Anna joined Our West Bayfront, a nonprofit neighborhood revitalization organization that serves the neighborhoods west of Erie’s downtown, in 2017 as the organization’s first executive director. Prior to this role, she led Erie’s regional planning effort Destination Erie and directed its implementation initiative Emerge 2040. From 2005 to 2013 Anna worked for the City of New York’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development where she managed several of the agency’s affordable housing finance programs.

Jeremy Bloeser, Executive Director | Bayfront East Side Task Force

As the Executive Director of the Bayfront East Side Taskforce for the past ten years he has worked to eliminate blight, provide attractive resources to the neighborhood and worked to build community support. Jeremy is married with three children, an active realtor, youth running coach, and school board member.

Sarah Peelman, Recycling and Sustainability Coordinator | City of Erie

Sarah is the Sustainability Coordinator for the City of Erie, PA. Her roles include managing the recycling and composting programs, assisting with stormwater management education, alternative landscapes, climate resiliency, alternative energy, greenspace management and natural resource conservation. She is also an ISA Certified Arborist, managing the City’s Urban Forest Program and is an experienced grant writer.

Michael Washington, Executive Director | ServErie

Michael leads the ServErie team, while also serving as the Lead Pastor at New Vision Church. He is skilled at growing and leading teams and brings a passion for caring for the community.

Ashley Westgate, Program Director | ServErie

A native Erieite, Ashley supports ServErie’s volunteer teams and connects volunteers with organizations in the community in need of help. She fell in love with community renewal work when she studied in Costa Rica.

Lauren Azotea, Neighborhood Renewal Lead | ServErie

Lauren is an Americorp VISTA who leads the Neighborhood Renewal Team. She works to identify needs in the ServErie footprint and assists in administering the Neighborhood Block Grant.

Jessica Burkell, Community Outreach | ServErie

1:00-3:00 | Inclusive Trails from the Ground Up: Part 2 (onsite) (.2 CEU)

In part two of the series, attendees will go ‘intothe field’ and learn basic layout techniques and skills for universally designed trails.

Presenters

Larry Knutson, Principal | Penn Trails, LLC
Larry Knutson is the founder and President of Penn Trails, LLC, an active member company of the Professional Trail Builders Association, North America’s largest private sector group of professional trail specialists, contractors, designers and consultants. A cloud-based company located near Carlisle, Pennsylvania, Penn Trail works nationwide to create trails for people. Working with public, private, and non-profit landowners to plan, design, and implement environmental and experiential solutions. We provide guidance and direction that addresses trail planning for unique and challenging environments. We focus on universal design and support for diverse groups of users, along with sustainable management of trails and other site features as an integrated element of the natural resource assets. Since 2008, we have helped to assess, conceptualize, plan, budget and construct hundreds of miles of trails and pathways. In addition, Penn Trails offers a wide range of professional trails training.

Sarah Walter, Planning and Design Manager | Penn Trails, LLC
Sarah Walter is a licensed Landscape Architect in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania with prior experience in municipal planning and land conservation. Sarah provides project management services, as well as leading project phases including GIS acquisition and mapping and CAD detail design. Prior to joining Penn Trails, Sarah worked in the Centre County Planning & Community Development Office for over 6 years as a Senior Planner, simultaneously administering the County Agricultural Land Preservation Program and serving as Executive Director for the Centre County Farmland Trust. She has coordinated documentation and placement of conservation easements for the Centre County Agricultural Land Preservation Program while working with Federal, State, County, Municipal, and non-profit stakeholders.